After a tight loss in Game 1 against the Boston Celtics, the Philadelphia 76ers knew exactly what they needed to clean up in Game 2. Minimize turnovers, contain the Celtics’ shooters, and, most importantly — get Joel Embiid the ball.
As the best player on the floor for the Sixers on both sides, Embiid understands he has to take over at times. During Game 2, the Sixers center got off to a red-hot start as he collected 15 points in the first nine minutes of the game.
But once the second quarter rolled around, Embiid and the 76ers fell off quickly and eventually got blown out by a fired-up Celtics team. The final score on Wednesday night was 128-101. While the Celtics had multiple big performances from several players, only one guy from Philly really stood out on the stat sheet. That was none other than the three-time All-Star, Joel Embiid.
In 34 minutes of action, Embiid collected a team-high of 34 points along with ten rebounds to secure his second-straight double-double in the playoffs. Unfortunately for him, Embiid can’t enjoy a job well done. Instead, the Sixers center is looking for ways to capitalize on his ability to dominate next time because he knows he has to give a lot more than he already has during Game 3.
“I definitely got way more to give,” Embiid admitted on Wednesday, following the loss in Game 2. “I thought today, I wasn’t as good as I’d like to be offensively and especially defensively, we struggled a lot defensively. Obviously, it starts with our guards who got to contain the ball, and whenever something gets in the paint, I’ve got to do my job and protect them. Like I said, I got way more to give.”
Embiid’s spirit is encouraging, but at some point, somebody on the Sixers is going to have to give him help if they want any shot at coming back this series. The Sixers can expect a fully motivated Embiid on Friday for Game 3. Now, his teammates just need to step up and offer some consistent help.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_